A letter to the Editor
A couple weeks ago I headed to Bowling Green State University here in Ohio to do some research. I wrote about it in a post here. Part of my research included reading newspapers from the early 1860’s. I wanted a feel for life in my area at that time. Also I was curious to see what impact the Civil War had on daily life. I was surprised but over-the-moon to find (my) Captain Hiram Stotts of the 4th Ohio Cavalrywrote a letter which was published in both local newspapers. Read what the good Captain had to say:
From Camp Chase
Camp Chase, Columbus Ohio
August 25, 1861
Friend Fisher: – I take the opportunity to inform you that my Company are all well at present. You may publish the names of the following men as Deserters from my company: W.H. Ackerman, S. McCane, Noah Derth, George Craig, John Bird, Wm Whitaker, James Bedinger, Henry Franklin, Phillip Hawk, James Watt, Daniel Woodlet, W.W. Davis.
Now I will give you the way they worked the matter before they left. We marched the boys up to head quarters to have them sworn in to the service, and when called upon to be sworn, those same 12 men backed square out of the ranks, slipped to the Camp, got their baggage, stole their way through the guard and broke for some place unknown. I caution you to be aware of all such men, for they will not fight for their country, the Union and the Constitution. Such men had better be in the South. I for my part am glad that they left the company, for if I had taken them to the battle field they would have left me there; and so I think I am better off without them. We will be mustered into the service to-morrow, and then I will give you the names of all our men, and all of the details of the whole matter. What I have written to you about the boys leaving are facts. The Boys that are with me will carry me out in all that I have said. Volunteers are coming and going all the time. I am very well pleased with the business of the encampment.
Captain H. STOTTS
Wow! Can you imagine being at the Dry Goods store or at the blacksmiths and have someone mention your son’s name was in the paper as a deserter? Maybe worse you hear only some whispers or get a curt nod from a friend. Holy Moly! Hiram didn’t mince words! Such a short letter but packed with a lot of punch!
Reading newspapers from the period is a great resource as you continue to shake the dust off your Civil War ancestor. The information you find adds up to what once was a living, breathing person. A person who happened to be a part of one of the most important events in this country’s history!